Monday, July 31, 2017

Fantasia Fondant Review - Oh So Marshmallowy

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Like The Neverending Story, this is The Nevernding Fondant Review. For my 14th review I'm doing Fantasia Fondant.  This fondant in made in Italy by Laped and distributed in the US by Vardanyan Enterprises.

Fantasia Fondant




In my non-expert analysis of these various fondants, I use ten different criteria: Taste, Texture, Rolling, Coverage, Draping/Smoothing, Cutting/Trimming, Drying Time, Tinting, The Final Look, and a recently added criteria: Humidity/Refrigeration/Moisture test.


Taste - If I had to describe the taste of Fantasia Fondant in one word it would be Marshmallowy.  That is what is tastes like, feels like, and smells like.  If you like the taste of marshmallows this is the fondant for you!

The mouth-feel of the Fantasia is soft, fluffy, and melts in your mouth.  It is also has a stretchy feel that reminds me of soft taffy.   After swallowing the fondant it leave a faint marshmallow taste in the mouth.   


Texture – Out of the foil wrapper this fondant is very soft and stretchy. You can pinch off pieces with no effort. When you first take the fondant out of the package it is a little sticky and damp, but after working it for a few minutes it loses most, but not all, of the tackiness.


The fondant is very easy to knead, roll, and shape; and like the Renshaw, Fat Daddio and Dream fondant I reviewed a few weeks ago, it easily picks up textures from leaf veiners, impression mats, or even paper towels.


The Fantasia fondant is also very elastic and stretchy.  It almost acts like warm taffy.


I like these stretchy fondants because they don't rip as easily when covering the cake.  Another positive thing about this fondant is that it doesn't seems to gouge as much as other super soft brands.  The Renshaw and Via Roma fondants had this same non-gouging quality.  Maybe it is the stretchiness of the fondant that keep the marks from showing?? 




Rolling – Because the Fantasia fondant is so soft it is very, very easy to roll.  I would call it a breeze to roll.  You definitely won't get a workout rolling out this fondant.  The Fantasia also didn't produce any air bubbles inside the fondant when rolling.  <<Happy, Happy Dance >>   But I did notice some air bubble forming between the fondant and The Mat below.  Not a big deal though because once you lift the fondant from The Mat the air bubble disappears.

Another plus with the Fantasia is that its elasticity keeps the edges soft and smooth as it is rolled larger and larger.  No split, cracks, or ragged edges with this fondant.  Everything stays smooth and even.


And the Fantasia didn't stick to the plastic mat that I use to roll out the fondant.  It pulled off without any problems.   The fondant also had a very shiny appearance when I pulled it from the mat.  It almost glistened like it was rubbed with oil.



Coverage – In all the fondant tests I've conducted, I use 5 ounces of fondant and roll to 1/8” thick.  For the Fantasia I was able to roll the 5 oz to a little over 11 inches round.  For coverage, this is one of the better fondants I've tested. 


In fact you can roll this fondant even thinner than 1/8".  My 5oz could actually be rolled to 13 inches or more.  I was able to cover a 7x4" cake and a 8x4" cake with just 11 ounces of this fondant.   Wow!!   And even with the fondant that thin, I had no problems with the fondant ripping when I covered the cakes, and after covering I had no problems with the fondant becoming transparent due to the thinness. This fondant gets 5+ stars in the coverage department.


Draping/Smoothing - This Fantasia fondant forms A LOT of drapes and folds when placed on the cake (especially when you roll it really thin).  It was a little time consuming smoothing out the folds, but it wasn't too difficult. The fondant did get a little tacky while I was working with it (humidity was running about 90% that day), and because of the tackiness I couldn't use a plastic fondant smoother because it kept sticking to the fondant.  In the end I just used my hands to do all the smoothing, and it came out fine.   But one big advantage of the slightly tacky surface is NO ELEPHANT SKIN.  The surface of the fondant didn't dry out, so the fondant didn't get that ugly puckered look. (Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the draping with the white fondant on the "dummy" cake, so here is the draping on a real cake.)


Notice the difference in the sheen of the fondant when comparing the picture above and below?  In the picture above, the fondant (purchased pre-colored) was placed on a buttercream cake (1/2 butter, 1/2 crisco).  Notice how the blue fondant above is shinier and tackier than the white fondant pictured below (which is layer directly atop a metal pan).  I guess the Fantasia fondant (especially the tinted fondant) soaks up moisture from the cake and frosting layered under the fondant.



Cutting/Trimming – The fondant cuts easily with no major edge problems.  Even with my dull blade it slices nice and clean. 




Drying Time – As I tested this Fantasia fondant I noticed a lot of similarities between it and the Renshaw fondant.  Another similarity is how it dries - or doesn't dry.  The fondant almost forms a thin outer crust of dried fondant, but under that thin shell the fondant stays soft and malleable.   Below is a rectangle piece of fondant that is 1/4" thick.  It is freshly rolled and cut, yet it still holds it shape and doesn't sag too much when suspended over the side of the turntable.


And after over 36 hours of air drying, the fondant was still soft and tender under the hard shell.  I was able to squish the rectangle back into a ball and re-roll it.  The Renshaw fondant had this same quality.



Tinting – No major problems with tinting.  The Fantasia took the Wilton food color gels without any problems.  Even the troublesome burgundy looked true.


Most of the Americolor tints also works as well.  The only problems I noticed were with the Americolor mauve and burgundy.  The mauve came out brown (second from the right in the picture below) and the burgundy came out a little too purple (far right).


The tinted Fantasia fondants also stayed vibrant.  Even after a few days there was no fading.  But like most of the super soft fondants, adding a lot of color made the fondant much stickier and more susceptible to humidity and moisture leaching from the cake into the fondant.




Final Look – Overall the finished look of the Fantasia fondant was very nice.  No blemishes, sages, or gouges.  The bottom cut was a little wonky, but I think my cutting blade is getting a little dull.




Humidity/Refrigeration/Moisture Test

Humidity and Heat is a big problem in my neck of the woods so I wanted to document how the fondant react to refrigeration and humidity.  The moisture test is actually to test how the fondant reacts to the underlying frosting be it buttercream or ganache.

The test cake below shows two tiers covered in Blue Fantasia fondant after they were refrigerated overnight and then taken out and set on the counter. The top tier has ganache under the fondant and the bottom tier has buttercream under the fondant. It looks fine at this point.  It was just a little tacky to the touch, but nothing major.


Then I let the cake sit in an insulated box for about 3 hours so the cake would come to room temperature.  Sadly the fondant didn't handle the New Orleans summer humidity very well.  The fondant got very damp looking and was extremely sticky to the touch.  Just look how it shines.


The upper tier had ganache under the fondant. My ganache didn't come out as thick and sturdy as normal -- guess I put too much cream in it???   And my crumb coat of chocolate buttercream was a little thicker than normal.  But even with all the frosting problems, cutting through the fondant didn't make too much of a mess.  The soft, tacky fondant pulled a bit with the knife, but it wasn't unmanageable.


In fact the cut piece didn't look bad at all.


The bottom tier had buttercream under the fondant, and the Fantasia fondant had some serious problems with that (in combinations with the New Orleans humidity).  There was some major pulling of the fondant during slicing.


Not pretty at all....



Summary

So in summary, some of the big pluses with this Fantasia fondant include: 1) it was super easy to handle and roll, 2) it didn't rip or tear as I worked with it on the cake, 3) it didn’t form any “elephant skin” as it dried, 3) it didn't show many marks or gouges from my fingernails, and even when I did accidentally mark the fondant, the marks were easy to smooth out because the fondant is so elastic and stretchy, 4) the ability of this fondant to dry on the outside but not on the inside is really helpful if you need to remove and re-roll your fondant, 5) the taste was pretty good - if you like marshmallow, and 6) it can be rolled very thin so a 1.1 lb brick is more than enough to cover two smallish cakes.   

The only issue I had with the fondant was the way the Fantasia fondant handle humidity and the moisture leaching from the cake.  Even with ganache under the fondant, the fondant became sticky and shiny .  If you live in a dry climate this fondant is probably a great choice, but if the humidity is running in the 85-100% range this fondant my turn sticky. 


If you want to read my other fondant reviews you can find them here:  The original  7 fondant comparison, the Via Roma review, the Cake Craft review, the Carma Massa review, the Dream review, the Fat Daddio review, and the Renshaw review.

Happy Baking (and Decorating),

Carol

  





Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Blue Morpho Butterfly in Gum Paste

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It is the time of year for engagement parties.  Congrats to my nephew Bradley and his fiancee, Kristen.

Kristen is a fabulous artist and a lover of all creatures great and small.  Including BUGS and REPTILES.  Interesting girl.  For her last birthday I made her a cake in the shape of an angry Leaf Beetle, but for her engagement party she wanted a more traditional cake with roses and a large Blue Morpho Butterfly.

Honestly she is the artist and not me, so I tried to get her to make/paint the Morpho that would adorn the cake, but she didn't take the hint.  In the end I struggled and came up with something that was at least presentable.


I started out by cutting 4 individual gum paste wings using guides I made from wax paper.  I smoothed the edges of the gum paste, and then cut shallow lines to represent the markings on the Morpho's wings.  As a final step I inserted floral wire into the wings.


Here are the 4 wings waiting to be painted.


The Morpho butterfly is mostly blue with some iridescent teals and purples.  I started out paining the center section with some Wilton Teal food color gel.  I mixed a little bit of gel with some vodka and then just painted it on.


Next I added some AmeriColor Electric Blue


And finally I trimmed the edges in Wilton Black


Once the paint was dry, I used the embedded wires to twist the wings together.


And then I built a body on top of the wires.  I also added some sparkly gems to the edges to mimic the white spots on the Morpho's wings.


Then I painted the body black, and inserted some thin wire for the antenna.


Sadly, the twisted floral wires weren't strong enough to hold the butterfly wings together, so I had to use some hot glue to hold everything in place.  I also hot glued a wire loop on the back so I could hang the butterfly from the cake.

So here is the original sketch from the bride-to-be...


And here is the finished cake. She wanted the colors to be Coral and Turquoise.  In the beginning I thought it was a bold and inventive combination, but now I realize they are the trending colors.  <<I am so out of the loop.>>   I also added a few more flowers than her sketch showed.  I had some extra gum paste roses, and I felt bad about throwing them away and not using them on the cake.


So all in all it turned out well.   Congratulations Brad & Kristen. Ya'll make such a cute couple.


Happy Decorating,

Carol 


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Zesty Cucumber Tomato Sandwich - Most Popular Dish at the BBQ

Every year I have a big BBQ for the 4th of July: lots of beef, pork, and chicken!!  But a last minute addition of some vegans/vegetarians to the gathering had me scrambling for some non-meat dishes.  I found a recipe for some cucumber sandwiches that looked delish, and best of all it didn't require another trip to the grocery store.  Just bread, cucumbers, and a spread made of cream cheese and dry salad dressing powder.   At the last minute I added a sliced cherry tomato and a sprinkle of dill on top of the cucumber.

WOW!!!



Can I say it again...WOW!!  These little sandwiches were the hit of the BBQ!  Everyone loved them.  My refrigerator is stuffed with leftover meat, but not a single cucumber sandwich remained.




Zesty Cucumber & Tomato Sandwiches

Ingredients

1 (8oz) package of Cream Cheese, softened
1 (.7 oz) pack of dry Zesty Italian Salad Dressing Mix
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
Dill, dried
French Bread, thinly sliced (1/4 inch) and then toasted

Directions
  • In a small bowl mix together soften cream cheese and dry salad dressing mix. 
  • Cut bread in 1/4 inch thick slices and then toast till the outside is a little crunchy. PS: I just used my bread toaster instead of the oven.  I was able to toast 8 slices at once.  PPS: the taste testers preferred the bread toasted to un-toasted.
  • Spread some of the cream cheese mix on top of the bread and add a slice of cucumber.
  • Put a dab of the cream cheese mix on top of the cucumber and then gently push one half of a cherry tomato into the dab of cream cheese.  The dab of cream cheese will keep the tomato from sliding off the cucumber!
  • Sprinkle the top with a little bit of dried dill
  • Enjoy